Directed by Tom Dey.
Written by Keith Sharon, Alfred Gough and Miles Millar.
Starring Robert De Niro and Eddie Murphy.
Release Year: 2002
Review Date: 3/19/02
I will admit it: the preview for "Showtime"
was damned good. William Shatner diving across a car hood, with
Robert De Niro commenting "Nice job, TJ"?? The pairing of De Niro
and Eddie Murphy? Rene Russo? Sold.
Laura and I decided to catch it at the
Coronet here in San Francisco last night, and this was some pretty
entertaining stuff. But, it wasn't as good as the trailer.
De Niro plays a veteran LA detective that is
trying to track down a foreign gunrunner when he runs across a beat
cop (Murphy) that has detective aspirations. Meanwhile, a
down-on-her-luck TV producer (Russo) needs a hit show fast, and in
the above-the-law veteran she mines the idea for a reality-based
"Cops" rip-off that features the black-and-white cop pairing that
just might be a hit. So, after some brief cops-on-TV training by
the show's director, William Shatner (playing himself, post-"TJ
Hooker"), the pair discover chemistry and criminals as they track
down the arms dealer.
There are some great scenes in "Showtime"
but man, are they isolated. Amongst the highlights are all of the
scenes with Shatner, who might be the biggest ham in show business
but you have to respect a man who clearly knows it. How the
producers convinced Shatner to play himself isn't important--that
they got him to hilariously slide across a cop car hood is just
about the funniest scene in the film. (That, or when he teaches
Murphy how to test cocaine.) Frankie Faison, Mos Def, Kadeem
Hardison and a few others make funny appearances, while Murphy and
De Niro get better as a team as the film goes on.
Wasted here, though, were many more
opportunities to play up the clichéd buddy-cop film and go for the
jugular. "Showtime" only does that in one scene, near the
beginning, where Murphy auditions for a cop show and agonizes over
his just-killed hypothetical partner by talking about how he was
"just getting ready to get out" of the police force. Many of the
jokes fall flat, and Russo's character is such a waste that it is a
wonder why she took the role. For an action-comedy, this film has a
surprising number of deaths and more gunfire than some R-rated
films...which is fine, except that this is PG-13. Part of that has
to do with the integral plot point, a high-tech machine gun that
fires rounds the size of cigars and leaves holes in objects three
times the size of a pancake. Having cheesy action music matched
with Mos Def running around firing this gun is an odd sight, indeed.
Entertaining, but pretty vanilla. Please
note that this is the odds-on favorite for Worst Soundtrack of the
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard